March 31, 2013

Something Special Just For You

Yes, it's true. Just for you and me and the whole earth - from the beginning of time. Jesus chose to lay down his life to redeem us from Hell. The Hell we deserve for our sin. Ever lie? Cheat? Slander? Then, his sacrifice via the cross was just for you. It's a gift that cost him much pain and sorrow. But if you receive this gift of eternal life by choosing and following Him, it's a gift back to Him that will bless him. Yes, something special.

Easter Sunday morning- the Triumph of Jesus over sin and death- for our benefit! Never a victim- always a champion. Preachers everywhere should remember this! As should the people He gave his life for.

March 28, 2013

Iron Man Invades Innoventions

Quick news breaking: an Iron Man exhibit finally comes to Disneyland, taking over the Innoventions building. Of course, its in support of the film Iron Man 3, but at least its finally something interesting for the space once filled by America Sings and Carousel of Progress. And, unfortunately, its probably the cheap and dirty replacement for a full blown attraction from Imagineering.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 25, 2013

Karen Carpenter Solo Album- As Intended

Thanks to my friend Chris at the A&M Corner, we have a scan of the original color scheme intended for Karen Carpenter's solo album. Beautiful- and not the ugly green tinged version that was originally released. This isn't the front cover but the inside photo. Just as I saw it years ago- before the album was shelved. Thanks, Chris. 

March 18, 2013

Downton Disney

Everyone is in a stir these days when the subject of Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney rises to the surface. Many, myself included, are disappointed if not outright angry that the suits closed Adventurer's Club and other favorite hotspots that were part of Pleasure Island

Others are frustrated by the tossing aside of Hyperion Wharf and it proposed waterfront area. Perhaps the eldest of Disney fans remember the Village Marketplace and miss the quaint and quiet atmosphere.

Disney Springs is here, but I think I have a plan to make many folks happy.

How about a total revision of the place and dub it Downton Disney? With apologies to the writers, producer, and actors of Downton Abbey, can't you just see an Epcot styled village populated with shops and restaurants from the early 1900s? Wouldn't you just love to bump into your favorite PBS series characters? Just watch out for O'Brien in that back alley! You know she's not up to anything good.

(Photograph from Trip Advisor.)

March 15, 2013

Adventures in Science Leads to Inner Space

Adventures in Science. Sounds pretty intriguing, doesn't it? Well, back in the day, he said partially tongue in cheek, the Imagineers at Disneyland worked hard to make sure Tomorrowland was really about...tomorrow. It was not a character filled romp with Nemo, Buzz Lightyear or even R2D2, but a place where guests of all ages could really discover, think, and yes, imagine.

This piece of concept art for the Adventures in Science attraction shows the Mighty Microscope- a centerpiece to the simple but brilliant and much loved ride eventually known as Adventure Thru Inner Space. For approximately 15 years, this Omnimover cruise into an atom thrilled guests and astounding the youngest park visitors as they shrunk to the size of a molecule.

Come 1987, Star Tours took up residence in the space occupied by Space, and Tomorrowland would never be the same.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 11, 2013

Living in Fantasyland

Thanks to the wonderful folks at WDWMagic for the photo of the brand new Tangled-themed restrooms in Fantasyland at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom... but it's not enough to make me want to visit the complex at this point in time.  Love the movie Tangled, and yes, I really do want to see the New Fantasyland eventually. 

From an aesthetic point of view, this is a very nice looking piece of work- as is much of the expansion of the realm of Fantasy. I am sure all the enhanced queues (Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) provide pleasant diversion for those guests stuck in very long lines. And I know that the chance to eat in Beast's dining room will draw in the numbers. 

All these new little touches are part of what makes a trip to Walt Disney World full of eye candy. A part. A small part. A very small part. Thanks to the astounding success of Cars Land at California Adventure and the incredible attraction Radiator Springs Racers, perhaps the suits are realizing that it is the combination of wonderfully innovative attractions and immersive environments that will bring in the crowds. This should change the future of the parks. But if the suits think they can continue on ignoring the need for new and amazing adventures in Florida, they are the ones living in Fantasyland. 

(Photograph copyright WDWMagic.)

March 9, 2013

Dark Skies Over Disneyland

Yep, this is a real photo! Mint Crocodile over at the great Magic Eye site caught this during a bad weather day visit to Disneyland. There's something really cool about this photo. Brings so much atmosphere! Thanks, Mint!

March 8, 2013

The Thin Veneer of Christianity

It's a pretty sad state of affairs when you compare the Jesus followers of His time with many of the folks who call themselves Christians today. Just from reading the Gospels and the book of Acts in the New Testament, a casual reading would confirm that following Jesus was counter culture, at the expense of everything else- money, security, worldly wisdom, popularity, power and position. It cost everything, even requiring giving up the old way of living.

Jesus himself told his believers that they would see wolves in sheep's clothing, weeds among the wheat, those proclaiming to follow him that would conform in thought and deed to the patterns of this world instead of pursuing a life of holiness, and growing in closeness to him. It happens inside the church and outside the church, and in all levels of involvement. The Apostle Paul warns us against it: 

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and elemental spiritual forces rather than on Christ." (Colossians 2:28) 

We see this today as many claim Him but call sin anything but, making excuses for it or valuing human wisdom and  "intelligence" above God's own word- making truth relative instead of submitting to what God says is true, conveniently forgetting Jesus said to the woman in adultery that she was to go and sin no more. Whoops. Those are the more blatant examples but not the only ones. Reminder from the Old Testament:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3) 

(Hey, don't get mad at me, God has made the rules. Read his rulebook as to define what is and isn't sin.)

What is this so hard to understand? As with anything of value or anything that grows, you must work at it, tend to it, to see it bear good fruit. Yet, Christianity is all too often thought of as a philosophy or "fire insurance", with some moving on to live their lives as they please. Pity- and it gives Christianity a very bad name.

Some folks have walked the opposite direction in seeing the hypocrisy of some in the church. They claim Christ but live and think like the world; no discernment, no wisdom, just following the same paths to destruction as many around them. The Bible becomes archaic or outdated, and they prefer their faith comes from those preaching prosperity and humanism. Or worse, they just create another veneer, making up their own beliefs but adding the name of Jesus to it. Egotistical at best, deadly at its worst.

An easy question to help you and I measure our relationship to Jesus: Are we closer to Him and becoming more like Him? Are we more obedient to God or do we look more like the world, valuing what the world says is important and thinking like those of a humanistic lifestyle? 

Jesus is returning to the earth one day, and He will judge the world. Heaven in Hell lie in the balance for each person. God sent Jesus because of His great love, not His anger. But He requires those wanting forgiveness and relationship for eternity to stay the course and pursue Him. Those who are truly His should be actively seeking His heart, His guidance, His wisdom, not that of earthly standards and beliefs. But that happens every day, sometimes in small doses, one step at a time. If you know and love Him, seek after Him with all your heart. Perpetually.

March 7, 2013

Insights and Sounds 5th Anniversary

Today marks the 5th Anniversary of the Insights and Sounds blog. When I began posting over 1,000 articles ago, I did not know what to expect. Almost immediately I found an audience. Folks with a love of Disney concept art, particularly for Disneyland and Epcot attractions; those interested at a look at Imagineering and the constant tinkering with the once abysmal California Adventure or the once still developing Animal Kingdom, people with a love for travel, music (especially Karen Carpenter) and the arts, found a "boutique" blog, that felt personal, friendly, and I hope, honest.

With time, I began to see it more like a network of friends I'd never meet, and I started to share more and more of my personal life. What an odd mix- and yet, somehow it works. I am one quirky man, and that is obviously reflected in what you read. (My family already knows that, and I know they stop by here time to time, even comment.)

In these years, I have changed quite a bit by the things you write. I've been challenged, chastised, and befriended. And I thank you for all of that.

There are many Disney focused blogs out there, and the official one will continue to provide items nothing unofficial can. Many writers have insider connections, better articles, or just more time to invest in building their readership. Like you, I read and appreciate so many of them. So I thank you for making time for this one.

My life is constantly changing as I embark on more adventures taking me into a life I never dreamed would be mine. I travel more for work and spend many more hours investing in the jobs I hold than I ever have in the past. It's very rewarding but it is so time consuming, No one but God knows the future, so I have no idea how long I will keep writing. For as long as I do, however, please know that I appreciate you and the feedback you give. Even those of you who comment anonymously...

March 6, 2013

Shanghai Disneyland Mirage

Revealing almost nothing, this brand new piece of art regarding the central gardens of Shanghai Disneyland continues the management position of keeping the park in the public eye... while disclosing next to nothing. Can't blame management for this decision. Disney parks have been ripped off all over the world. From Jungle Cruise to Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain to It's a Small World, nothing has been out of reach to those wanting to imitate the creations of those incredible Imagineers.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 4, 2013

New Adventures for Disneyland

New adventures coming for Disneyland! That's the breaking news... back in 1959. The Matterhorn Bobsleds, the Motor Boat Cruise, the Submarine Voyage and more. Of course, back then, even the old Imagineering masters knew how to "spin" the news. If you look closer, you'll notice one of the new attractions is labeled "Glacier Grotto". Nonetheless, in the 50s and 60s, Disneyland was expanding at a rapid rate, and the little park Walt Disney built was well on its way to becoming an international sensation.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

March 1, 2013

Disney's Polynesian Dreams

It's time for some beach time, and that usually includes Florida, Hawaii, or California. I've always had an urge to stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort ever since it was The Polynesian Village back in the 70s when Walt Disney World first opened. Difficult to justify the prices when the real beach resorts can be booked for less than half- even in pricey Hawaii or even very close to the price point of  Aulani at Ko O'lina. Guess that leads to more Polynesian dreams...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)